Hymn #104: We Hail You God’s Anointed

James Montgomery (1771-1854) wrote this text for use at a Moravian settlement Christmas service in 1821 and later included it at the close of a speech delivered at a Liverpool, England, missionary meeting.  Adam Clark, who was present at the meeting, was so impressed that he published it in his Bible commentary of 1822.

James Montgomery was one of England’s greatest hymnwriters, ranking with John Wesley, Isaac Watts, John Newton, and William Cowper.  He wrote and published more than four hundred hymns in over ten volumes; he also worked as a newspaper editor and teacher of poetry.

This anonymous tune is named ELLACOMB, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning island or coastal area (combe) of elves (ella).  It first appeared in a Roman Catholic hymnal from Wirtemberg, Germany, in 1784.  The tune name was supplied by an English hymnal editor.

This anonymous tune was first published in Gesangbuch der herzoglichen Wirtembergischen katholischen Hofkappelle (1784).  It appeared a century later in England in the Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern (1868), where it was the setting for a children’s hymn that began “Come, sing with holy gladness.